Drove Road

Paths walked for long years,
Long legs, shoe-shod
Or cloven, a short hop
From field to fair
Along these ridges
Fringed with trees;
Viewing points guarded
Only by skylarks
And hovering jackdaws
Whooping on thermals


Years on, these same paths
Cut across the high hills still;
Close-cropped chalk lands
Skylarks still chattering
Their nattering call;
Sentinels too 
The mossy finger posts
And picnickers parking bays 
Offering tarmacked vistas
Onto overgrown drove roads –

Roads no more:
Bamboozled by brambles’
Blood-bringing barbs,
Nipped by nettles’
Venomous vitriol,
Even the boxy pupils
Of the Wiltshire Horns
Study no longer 
These routes of traverse 
That wane like whispers –

Memory lines lost –
To plants, to ploughs
To the past.

The front advances

South-westerlies comb the ridge
An ancient ridge, wiry-haired with Scot’s Pine
Hornbeam and scale-skinned horse chestnuts
They act as a break
Before a break in the trees lets the storm
Seep in, be channeled
Along the holloway of sorts
A muddy cleft, worn low by countless feet
And the countless hooves of ox and beast
Over countless years
And there in my look-out, my crow’s nest
I see the rain approaching
Like waves billowing before the break
Like the milk diffusing through my tea
Like the rippling curtains of the Northern Lights
I see the front advancing
The change in the air, all dryness seen off
The pressure drop, lifts me
The disquiet amongst the angsty birds
Then the first dribs, at first I can count them
One drop, it leaves a crater
A second, third, then the thunder of the guns
The front’s artillery unleashes its power
Softening the enemy
Before the fine mist, the rain’s rapid rattle
Horizontal, spatters me
Finishes me off